Researcher Is Found Guilty of Espionage
Researcher Is Found Guilty of Espionage
Mon Apr 5, 2004 21:39

Posted on Mon, Apr. 05, 2004
Researcher Is Found Guilty of Espionage

Associated Press

MOSCOW - Researcher Igor Sutyagin was found guilty of espionage Monday, Russian news agencies reported, in a case that raised fears of a resurgence of Soviet-style tactics and alarmed the scientific community.

Sutyagin, a scholar at Moscow's respected USA and Canada Institute, was jailed in October 1999 on charges he sold information on nuclear submarines and missile warning systems to a British company that Russian investigators claim was a CIA cover.

Sutyagin maintained the analyses he wrote were based on open sources and that he had no reason to believe the British company was an intelligence cover.

He faces up to 20 years on the conviction, but a sentence was not immediately announced and officials at the Moscow City Court could not be reached for comment

The Interfax news agency quoted Sutyagin's lawyer, Boris Kuznetsov, as saying only four of the 12 jury members recommended mercy when the judge determines the sentence.

Kuznetsov said he would appeal and that the judge gave the jury incorrect instructions by asking them to determine whether Sutyagin had passed along the information - which the defendant did not deny - rather than whether he had passed state secrets.

The judge "was manipulating the jury's opinion and the main manipulation was that the questions raised by her did not reflect the essence of the charge," he said in comments shown on the NTV television channel.

Human rights advocates say the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the KGB's main successor, is deeply suspicious of Russian scientists' contacts with foreigners. They say that its agents have been emboldened by the rise of ex-KGB agent and FSB director Vladimir Putin to the presidency.

In only a few cases have courts challenged such cases. In December, a jury acquitted Valentin Danilov, a professor at Krasnoyarsk Technical University in Siberia, who had been charged with selling classified information on space technology to China and misappropriating university funds.

Russia's constitution provides for jury trials, but until recently they existed only on an experimental basis.

A court had been expected to deliver a verdict in the case in 2001, but instead instructed prosecutors to continue investigating and left Sutyagin in jail. Russian courts, including the Supreme Court, have repeatedly denied his request to await trial out of jail.

Other high-profile spying cases involving open sources in recent years included the arrest of former navy Capt. Alexander Nikitin, charged with divulging state secrets after co-authoring a report on environmental dangers posed by Russia's northern submarine fleet. He said the information he used had been published before, but spent 11 months in jail. He was later acquitted.

In 2000, U.S. businessman Edmund Pope was convicted of espionage for trying to purchase plans for an underwater propulsion system, which his supporters said had already been sold openly. He was later pardoned by Putin.

The 2001 arrest and conviction of U.S. Fulbright Scholar John Tobin on marijuana charges attracted wide attention after officials alleged he was a spy in training. He was later released.

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